If a little knowledge is dangerous, where is the man who has so much as to be out of danger?
—Thomas Henry Huxley
■ Purpose of This Chapter
The focus of this book is on analysis and trading. Although these subjects are explored in far greater depth than in most general commodity texts, the presentation in the following chapters does not assume any prior knowledge except for a familiarity with the basic concepts of futures markets. This chapter is intended to provide a sketch of the background information necessary to make this book accessible to the novice reader. The title of this chapter should be taken literally. Traders who are already familiar with futures markets should proceed directly to Chapter 2.
The introductory discussion provided by this chapter is deliberately brief and does not purport to cover all background subjects. Topics such as the history of exchanges, choosing a broker, and operation of the clearinghouse are not covered because a familiarity with these subjects is unnecessary for the analysis and trading of futures markets. Readers who desire a more detailed discussion of commodity market basics can refer to a wide range of introductory commodity texts.
■ The Nature of Futures Markets
A futures contract is a commitment to deliver or receive a standardized quantity and quality of a commodity or financial instrument at a specified future date. The price associated with this commitment is the trade entry level.
The essence ...